A PAMPANGA court granted the bail petition of the police officer alleged to be the mastermind of the October 2016 kidnapping-murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo.

In an 32-page order dated April 24, Judge Iriz Zenaida S. Buan of Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 56 allowed Police Lieutenant Colonel Rafael P. Dumlao III to post bail of P300,000 for each of the three charges in connection with the killing of Mr. Jee.

Along with Police Chief Master Sergeant Ricky M. Sta. Isabel and Jerry A. Omlang, Mr. Dumlao is facing charges of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and carnapping.

The Court said prosecution witnesses failed to prove Mr. Dumlao’s guilt.

“The testimonies of witnesses Marisa Dawis-Morquicho and Kyung Jin Choi did not mention any participation of accused Dumlao,” the Court said. “Their testimonies did not point to any specific act committed by accused Dumlao that could be interpreted as one done in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy to abduct and kill the victim.”

The court also said the testimony of state witness Police Executive Master Sergeant Roy L. Villegas that Mr. Dumlao instructed him to accompany Mr. Sta. Isabel in an operation on Oct. 4, 2016 and that he saw the three suspects converse with each other in Camp Crame “do not prove conspiracy.”

“While the said witness may have seen the three conversing, no assumption can be made that their conversation refers to an agreement or plan to kill the victim in this case. Since witness Villegas was not privy to the conversation and no other witness was presented to prove the tenor of the conversation had, the Court cannot consider the said circumstance or actuation as proof that accused Dumlao conspired with his co-accused,” it said.

The Court also said that the testimony of Mr. Villegas that “cast doubt” on Mr. Dumlao’s alleged complicity is what he said that after Messrs. Dumlao and Sta. Isabel talked in Camp Crame, “the latter returned…appearing angry and exclaimed…that he (Sta. Isabel) will already call the shots and no longer accused Dumlao.”

The Court also said the testimony of Police Corporal Christopher B. Baldovino that he heard the conversation between Messrs. Dumlao and Sta. Isabel when the former inquired about the operation/surveillance “cannot be construed as an act of complicity since nothing happened” in the said operation.

On the other hand, the RTC denied the bail petition of Messrs. Sta. Isabel and Omlang as there is “strong proof evident” of guilt on their part.

The Court said that the conclusion in the petition for bail “is without prejudice” in the determination of the guilt of the accused during the trial on the merits of the case.

Mr. Jee and his housekeeper Marisa Morquicho were abducted from his residence in Angeles City on Oct. 18, 2016 in an alleged anti-drug operation. Ms. Morquicho was released, but the Korean national was killed right in the headquarters of the Philippine National Police and his cremated remains were reportedly flushed in a toilet.

On May 6, the Department of Justice filed a motion for the issuance of a hold-departure order against Mr. Dumlao “in order not to frustrate the ends of justice, as when the accused retreats to another country in order to escape prosecution.”